The Russo Brothers' Have An Entire Franchise In Mind For Ryan Gosling's Gray Man Character

The Russo Brothers' "The Gray Man" is currently in limited release in theaters, and scheduled to land on Netflix on Friday, July 22. The Russos have had something of an odd filmmaking career, starting with inauspicious or low-profile comedy films like "Welcome to Collinwood" and the terrible "You, Me and Dupree" before moving into high-profile TV shows like "Arrested Development" and "Community." This somehow led them into directing the hit superhero film "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Captain America: Civil War," proving they had a talent for wrangling enormous groups of characters into spectacular fight sequences. They would go on to make two other MCU films, including "Avengers: Endgame," which featured anywhere between eight and 400 characters all fighting at once.

Following "Endgame," the Russos have been experimenting with other, more typical genre films to mixed success. Joe Russo wrote the military thriller "Extraction," one of the biggest films in Netflix's history, and the two of them directed the Scorsese-lite "Cherry," starring Tom Holland as a soldier and drug addict. "The Gray Man," based on the Mark Greaney novel and starring Ryan Gosling, Ana De Armas, and Chris Evans, is a spy thriller about a CIA man who goes on the lam after revealing shady government secrets. 

Perhaps because of their involvement in the expansive, long-running series that is the MCU, the Russos admitted in an interview with Empire that they were already pondering further sequels and expanded adventures for Sierra Six, Gosling's spy character. 

More Gray Man

Greaney's first Sierra Six novel was published in 2009, and there have already been eleven additional novels already published or currently in the works. The newest, simply called "Sierra Six," was published in February of this year, and "Burner" is coming in 2023. Greaney is also one of the authors who collaborated with — and has continued to write novels based on characters created by — Tom Clancy, so long-running, interconnected espionage-based universes are the author's stock in trade. 

Wanting to tap into that interconnectivity, Joe Russo told Empire that sequels are being planned, just in case this film takes off. "We never want to jinx it, but we're already thinking through where it goes from here," Joe Russo said. "We like to build out worlds, and we would rather gamble on the upside and put the energy and time in to build out that universe prior to the release, so that the ideas are more germane and organic. That's how you build out a more complex mosaic narrative."

More complex mosaic narratives have certainly served the Russos well in the past, through their experience with both television and the MCU. Joe, perhaps admitting to being spoiled by the enormity of the MCU, admits to a pang of hunger for bigger stories. "We're intimately involved in all of it," he said, adding that "The focus is to make 'Gray Man 2'. Our appetite is voracious and the intention is always to do more than we can."

The second "Sierra Six" novel, incidentally, is called "On Target."

The most expensive Netflix movie yet

It's worth noting that "The Gray Man" is already plenty ambitious in itself. It stars three of the hottest actors currently working, and is reported to have a budget of over $200 million, making it the most expensive film in the streaming platform's history. Like many Netflix films, the advertising blitz surrounding "The Gray Man" has been muted at best, and nearly nonexistent at worst, leaving the film itself to find an audience organically. There hasn't been an "Avengers"-like, years-long push to get audiences into "The Gray Man." 

The buzz around "The Gray Man" would have to be very loud in order for sequels to make their way into production, and the buzz is currently minor. /Film's own Hoai-Tran Bui called "The Gray Man" aggressively mediocre in her review, and it currently holds an aggressively middling 57% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes

This is, however, based on its mere theatrical release. One can only speculate what kind of attention or traction "The Gray Man" will accrue once it hits Netflix on July 22, 2022. Perhaps an expanded "Sierra Six" universe will be something to get excited about.